Church Pastor Speaks out after Allegations Church Member Molested Teen

NBC 12
June 28, 2012

[with video]

The pastor at Christian Outreach Tabernacle said his church was shaken after allegations a church member abused one of the teens at the church.

"We are devastated," responded youth pastor, Mark Gallimore. "Obviously our feelings are devastated."

Deputies arrested Edward Zottoli, of Spotsylvania, after charging him with five sex related charges. They said Zottoli, who goes by "Brother Ed", slept naked with a 14-year-old boy from the church, asked for a massage, forced the teen to perform sexual acts on him and sexually assaulted the teen twice.

Deputies believe the abuse was contained to one night.

Pastor Norm Gallimore said he learned about what happened when Zottoli called him, reportedly two days after the incident, but before he reportedly turned himself in to authorities.

Church leaders say there was no organized program for youth to spend the night with "Brother Ed" and that he was not a mentor to youth. They say Brother Ed was very close with the victim's family and they did things together at each others' houses often.

Two days after the reported abuse, the pastor met Brother Ed. He says Zottoli told him what happened.

"When you talked to him did he seem sorry?" Sarah Bloom asked Pastor Norman Gallimore.

"Yes, yes," said Norman. "You could see it in him too. It's not just words."

Zottoli turned himself in the next day, a fellow church member brought him to the magistrate's office.

"I said it would be the right thing," said Norman Gallimore. "I didn't encourage him, but I did tell him it would be the right thing because if not they would come after you anyway. "

Zottoli is behind bars until his next court date. The church is trying to rebuild from what happened.

"We've got some programs that we're working on as far as doing some backgrounds," said Mark Gallimore. " Our goal is to grow larger as a church so we're learning that's needed."

Church leaders add that they are speaking with other youth at church as a precaution, though they don't' suspect any of them were abused by Brother Ed.

Deputies say Zottoli told them he had molested children before in other countries. Because of this, they have concerns there could be other victims. They ask anyone remotely worried about another victim to call authorities at 540-582-7116.








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